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Patt Optimistic About Talks for the Establishment of a U.s.-israel Free Trade Area

Israel’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Gideon Patt, expressed optimism here last night that negotiations for the establishment of a U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area (FTA) will be successful. Patt, who is in Washington today for talks with Reagan Administration officials, stopped off here to address the Zionist Organization of Canada.

“It is the last round of talks between Israel and the U.S., ” he said of his present mission, “and starting January 1, 1985, Israel will be able to export to the U.S. duty free its products in exchange for U.S. rights to export to Israel under the same conditions. “Patt added that “We hope to have this agreement signed before the U.S. November elections. “

The establishment of an FTA was agreed to in principle between President Reagan and Premier Yitzhak Shamir when they met in Washington last year. Patt said that in the opinion of former Premier Menachem Begin, the FTA agreement would be “the most important document Israel has ever signed, more important even than the peace treaty signed with Egypt.”

He said Israel is aiming “towards an export figure of $11 billion by 1991 and we hope to push the figure of our exports to the U.S. alone, now below $2 billion, to $5-$6 billion yearly.”

Patt said that whichever party wins in Israel’s Knesset elections on July 23, “we must have a government of national unity, but not with the smaller splinter factions but with the Labor Party.”

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